Mabior Chol

Mabior Chol (born 29 January 1997) is a professional Australian rules footballer playing for the Richmond Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL). He was drafted by Richmond in the 2016 rookie draft and made his debut in round 23, 2016. Chol was delisted by the club in 2018 before being immediately re-rookied in the 2019 rookie draft. In 2019 Chol won a VFL premiership while playing with the Richmond reserves side.

Mabior Chol
Chol with Richmond's VFL team in May 2018
Personal information
Nickname(s) Marbs, Two Phones[1]
Date of birth (1997-01-29) 29 January 1997
Place of birth South Sudan
Original team(s) Aspley (NEAFL)
Draft No. 30, 2016 rookie draft
No. 45, 2019 rookie draft
Debut Round 23, 2016, Richmond
vs. Sydney, at SCG
Height 200 cm (6 ft 7 in)
Weight 93 kg (205 lb)
Position(s) Forward / Ruck
Club information
Current club Richmond
Number 41
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
2016– Richmond 10 (9)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2019.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com

Early life and junior football

Chol was born in present-day South Sudan, before his family fled to Egypt to avoid the ongoing civil war when he was two years old.[2] They moved to Australia in 2005 when Chol was eight years of age, settling in the Brisbane suburb of Acacia Ridge.[3][4]

After playing soccer and basketball at a younger age, Chol took up Australian rules football when he joined his school team at age 12.[5] After playing in the state school final at The Gabba, he committed to playing the game at junior level the next year and joined the Yeronga South Brisbane Devils.[6]

In 2013 Chol played for the World 18 team at the national under 16 championships.[5] He later entered the junior Queensland development pathway and the Brisbane Lions Academy where he would play in 2014 and 2015. Chol also played for Aspley and the Lions' reserve team in the NEAFL in addition to the Lions' under 18 team.[7] In 2015 he played with the Allies in an under 18 match as a curtain raiser to the year's AFL Grand Final.[6]

Chol was a strong performer in the 2015 AFL draft combine, recording the number one standing vertical jump score (334cm), as well as placing second in the running vertical jump test (357cm) and fourth in the relative running vertical jump test (90cm). He also came second to future teammate Daniel Rioli in the 30 metre repeat sprint test (24.3 seconds).[8] Prior to the draft he was also lauded by Queensland academy coach Adrian Fletcher for his positional versatility and his marking prowess.[9]

AFL career

Chol was drafted by Richmond with the club's second selection and 30th selection overall in the 2016 rookie draft.[10]

He first represented Richmond in the club's 2016 pre-season match against Fremantle.[11] He failed to gain selection at senior level as a result though, instead playing a majority of his season with the club's reserves side in the VFL.[12] There he played in a myriad of roles, including as a key defender, key forward and as a ruck.[13] He eventually made his AFL debut in Richmond's last match of the season, in round 23 against Sydney at the Sydney Cricket Ground.[4] Chol thereby became the fourth player of Sudanese descent (after Majak Daw, Aliir Aliir and Reuben William) to play senior AFL football.

Over the 2017 pre-season Chol focused on developing his body, looking to add muscle weight and to improve his endurance running.[14] Injuries to key forwards early in the season saw Chol in contention for a senior call-up, but coach Damien Hardwick told the media he was hesitant to play the "inexperienced" Chol.[15] In late July Chol was involved in a training mishap, accidentally poking forward Jack Riewoldt in the eye and causing him to miss two matches as a result.[16] By season's end Chol had failed to play senior football that year.[17] He did however contribute in the reserves, kicking 13 goals over 22 matches including in the team's losing grand final.[18]

Chol played his first football of 2018 in February, travelling to Sydney to play in Richmond's AFLX squad for that year's exhibition series.[19] In the pre-season tournament he played in one match and kicked one goal, playing a majority of the game as Richmond's lead ruck after Toby Nankervis suffered concussion early in that match.[20] His performance earnt the praise of Seven Network commentator Tim Watson, who predicted he would be playing AFL level football for Richmond by season's end.[21][22] While he did not earn immediate selection, he would be named as an emergency for the first time in round 3.[23] In early June Chol suffered a fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his foot while landing from a mark in training.[24][25] The surgery and resulting recovery was expected to see him in a stabilising moon boot for three weeks and sideline him from matches for eight to ten weeks.[24] By early-July he had resumed walking free of the boot and by late-August he was approaching the final stages of aerobic conditioning prior to a footballing return.[26][27] Chol eventually made his return to VFL football in Richmond's semi-final loss to Essendon, which brought to an end his and the club's reserves season after playing eight matches and kicking 11 goals.[28][29] He had failed to earn a senior match that year and the club subsequently delisted him at the end of the season.[17][30] As part of the announcement, club officials said they would consider their options in regards to Chol, while The Age reported that Chol would be reselected by Richmond in the coming rookie draft should he fail to be recruited by another club in the interim.[31][32] These reports proved correct when Chol was re-drafted to Richmond with the 45th pick in the 2019 rookie draft.[33]

A fully fit Chol completed a full pre-season training schedule before beginning the 2019 season with the club's reserves side in the VFL, including serving as stand-in captain in a pre-season match against the Box Hill Hawks in March.[34] He kicked five goals across the opening two rounds of the VFL season despite being switched through roles as a key forward, ruck and key back in those matches.[35][36] Chol kicked a further seven goals over three VFL matches in May, before moving into a ruck role as injuries and suspension to the club's AFL rucks tested depth in that area at VFL level.[37][38][39][40] He was best on ground in the VFL Dreamtime game in late May in that role, recording 23 disposals, 12 clearances, 22 hit outs and a goal in what coach Craig McRae called his best game in four seasons at the club.[41][42] After being named an AFL emergency but going unselected in the final team in round 12, Chol was named as emergency but eventually called up to play when ruck Ivan Soldo was ruled out with illness in round 13.[43][44][45] He kicked his first AFL goal in that match while also recording 13 hitouts and eight disposals in a ruck role shared with young teammate Noah Balta.[46][47][48] Chol remained in the senior side following the mid-season by and the return of Soldo in round 16, performing exceptionally in a forward role in which he kicked three goals and recorded 16 disposals and nine marks.[49][50] As a result, he received five votes in the AFL Coaches Association player of the year award and one Brownlow Medal vote as third best player on the field.[51][52][17] Chol kicked a goal in each his next five matches at AFL level, continuing to impact as a forward and relief ruck despite averaging a modest eight disposals per game.[53][54] After nine straight matches at AFL level but going goalless and posting a total of eight disposals across rounds 21 and 22, Chol was dropped back to VFL level.[17][55] His first match back was in a come-from-behind qualifying final win over the Essendon reserves in which he posted 13 hitouts and kicked two goals.[56][57] He was named as an emergency in the club's first AFL final the following weekend, before kicking another two goals in the VFL preliminary final as Richmond's reserves won through to that league's grand final.[58][59][60] Chol was an emergency again in the AFL preliminary final one week later, but was again unselected for the final team.[61] Instead, he formed part of the Richmond VFL side that defeated Williamstown as the club won its first reserves grade premiership since 1997.[62][63] [64] Chol finished 2019 having played a career-best nine matches at AFL level and was Richmond's equal-leading goalkicker in the reserves, with 21 goals across 12 games including that years' VFL premiership.[17][65]

Chol is contracted to Richmond through the end of the 2021 season.[66]

Statistics

Statistics are correct to the end of the 2019 season[17]
Legend
 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Season Team No. Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T
Totals Averages (per game)
2016Richmond41101202110.01.02.00.02.01.01.0
2017 Richmond 410
2018 Richmond 410
2019 Richmond 4199549237222281.00.65.42.68.02.43.1
Career 10 9 6 51 23 74 23 29 0.9 0.6 5.1 2.3 7.4 2.3 2.9

Honours and achievements

VFL

Personal life

In 2019 Chol began wearing a blond-dyed stripe in his black hair, resembling the Richmond guernsey design.[67][68]

Chol is an ambassador for The Growth Project, an organisation dedicated to fostering community engagement for young Melbournians of Suadanese heritage.[69][70]

References

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  2. Quayle, Emma (1 July 2014). "From Sudan to the AFL: three teenagers hoping to make the big time". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  3. Heslehurst, Brayden (22 October 2015). "Yeronga South Brisbane Devils player Mabior Chol is a good chance to be picked in AFL Draft". Quest Community Newspaper. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  4. Heslehurst, Brayden (2 September 2016). "Mabior Chol realises his AFL dream with famous Victorian club Richmond". Courier Mail. News Corp Australia. Quest Newspapers. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  5. "Mabior's long road to Tigerland". Richmond FC. Telstra Media. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
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